Here’s another look at the income inequality picture that has nothing in particular to do with George W. Bush. Here we see the share of national income going to the 90–95th percentiles, to the 96–99th percentiles, and to the top one percent. During this time period, the share going to each of the bottom four quartiles declined, and the share going to the 80th to 89th percentiles also declined. The 91st to 95th percentiles stayed basically the same. Those relative losses across the entire bottom 90 percent of the distribution accrued to the top five percent.
And as you can see here, the vast bulk of the action is within the top one percent. The top one’s share, clearly, is pretty volatile and seems to be pretty closely tied to the waxing and waning fortunes of the stock market in a way that the rest of the top five percent’s income isn’t. That’s something to keep in mind the next time you’re pondering whether or not it makes sense for economic news coverage to be so focused on stock issues — this seems to be much more important to the top one percent than to everyone else.